While the Chessie originated in this country, he came from stock destined to sail from England. In the year 1807, an English brig wrecked off the coast of Maryland and crew and cargo were rescued by the ship Canton. Also rescued were two Newfoundland puppies, a dingy red dog named “Sailor,” and a black bitch named “Canton.” The two dogs, who turned out to be wonderful retrievers, were presented to the gentlemen who helped the shipwrecked, and many of the nondescript dogs used for retrieving in the area were bred to them, in addition to other outcrosses, such as the English Otter Hound, Flat-Coat, and Curly-Coated Retriever.
By the time of the AKC’s establishment in 1884, a definite Chesapeake variety had been developed and was known for its prowess in the rough, icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay, where the dogs were often called upon to retrieve 100 or 200 ducks in a day. Anthony Bliss, in his history of the breed, noted that there were several differences between this type and the present-day Chesapeake. For one, the breed was found in one color only – dark brown, shading into a sort of reddish sage – and also, heads were more wedge-shaped and coats were thicker and longer. Today, under leadership of its parent club – the American Chesapeake Club, founded in 1918 – the breed is active in all areas of AKC competition. The club held its first licensed retriever trial in 1932.